While the Maple Leafs are going to have their hands full in dealing with other situations this summer, another concern they have is working out new deals with restricted free agents. Case in point: Nikolai Kulemin.
Kulemin has been an important player to the Leafs’ success the past few seasons and the former 30-goal scorer will be looking for a little financial security this summer. The Toronto Sun says that may wind up being tricky.
Kulemin’s agent, Gary Greenstin, was somewhat cryptic in a recent interview, saying “we’ll see what happens” in talks with the Leafs, but emphasized that Kulemin wants to remain in Toronto.
Two years ago, the sides went long and hard at each other before hammering out a new deal.
Kulemin is coming off a two-year deal that paid him $4.7 million but is also coming off a 2011-2012 season that saw him pot just seven goals and 28 points, both career lows. That doesn’t do much to help negotiating leverage but one bad season likely won’t do much to deter his agent from looking to score big.
For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”
On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.
With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.
“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”
As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.
It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.
Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?
We’ll know in a month.
Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:
The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.
The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.
If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.
Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”
And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.
While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.